Last week Gabe and I hosted a dozen friends to celebrate his 27th birthday. A few years ago I threw him a Star Wars-themed birthday party, and this year I went with another one of his favorite things: airplanes. This guy of mine has loved airplanes since he was little, so it was a fun opportunity for us all to goof off and act like kids again.
Decor was super simple. Silly signs welcomed guests past the “security checkpoint” and guided them to the baggage claim (front hall closet), lavatory (bathroom), and flight deck (balcony).
Upon entering, everyone had to grab two name tags at random: their pilot name and their vehicle. Gabe had lots of fun brainstorming names from movies, video games, and real life. My favorite was when a pregnant friend got to be Han Solo flying a big balloon, which worked well with her adorable protruding belly.
I used the silhouettes and names of WWII airplanes to make little food signs. The food was pretty low-key, since I’ve had a crazy couple of weeks and didn’t have hours to spend in the kitchen. We interspersed homemade goodies with store-bought snacks, and everything was a recipe I’d made before so I wasn’t too stressed.
Here’s the menu:
For drinks we did a DIY beverage station with little recipe cards for each cocktail:
- Dauntless dark and stormies (2 oz. dark rum + 6 oz. ginger beer)
- Engine and tonic (1 oz. Tomr’s tonic syrup + 2 oz. Prairie gin + 3 oz. soda water)
- We also had a crazy assortment of beer. I couldn’t find any beers with airplanes on the labels so I was thrilled when friends managed to do it for me, showing up with Schell Shocked Grapefruit Radler and Alaskan ESB, among many others.
For entertainment, I printed off paper airplane templates for people to construct, but the big hit of the night was a whole bunch of foam airplane gliders from Oriental Trading Company. Forty-eight gliders, to be exact. It was a mad melee of flying airplanes soaring every which way, and then a remote control helicopter somehow got in the mix and was bombarded with planes. So ridiculous and silly, but so much fun.
Thanks to all our party-goers for making the night a blast!
(P.S. While planning this fun birthday bash, I was inspired by several other blogs, including two parties from Hostess with the Mostess here and here, and the blog I’m Topsy Turvy.)
Alrighty, I promised you all a recap of our first and last Thanksgivukkah. Despite the fact that my dreidel cookies turned out slightly… lopsided… and my turkey breast took a full 45 minutes longer than I’d planned (more wine!) a good time was had by all. As my third time as Thanksgiving hostess would prove, it’s always better to let go and just relax.
Like I said before, the color theme was blue and orange, and I had fun pulling different elements of those colors together at the last minute. I made tiny vases for each place setting out of spice jars and blue washi tape. (Yep, I temporarily relocated some dried herbs. All in the name of decorating. Still haven’t put them back yet either…) I also amused myself by designing and printing out place cards and “Thanksgivukkah Fun Facts.” The table was rounded out with blue and orange napkins, a shiny pumpkin, gelt, dreidels, and our hanukkiyah.
Despite my plan to have a “pared down” menu, we used all the recipes I posted last week, and at the last minute I decided to make cranberry sauce and roasted garlic. Not together; that would be weird. Dinner was on the table at 4:35 instead of 4:05 like I’d hoped, but we still got to eat more than we wanted with leftovers to spare. And when all was cleaned up at the end of the night, I had a big pot of turkey stock simmering on the stove. That’s success in my book.
I just have to leave you with the silly story of my dreidel cookies. I tried to make homemade slice-n-bake cookies with a dreidel shape in the middle, and they turned out… different. I started by forming a long extrusion of blue cookie dough that would look like a dreidel when cross-sectioned. Then I planned to wrap plain cookie dough around the dreidel log to form a round cookie. (Yes, it required some math and advanced planning.) Unfortunately I wasn’t patient enough to let the dreidel log chill sufficiently, and it got a wee bit squished when I wrapped it with the plain cookie dough.
So they kind of looked like blue chili pepper cookies. I found the whole situation hilarious and served them anyway. Luckily they still tasted good! And now it’s Christmas-cookie season, so I have plenty of time to practice my slice-n-bake cookie-making. Unless, of course, I find some holiday to celebrate that includes blue peppers. You never know. :)
Gobble tov! I’m busy preparing for our first (and last) ever Thanksgivukkah, a once-in-a-chaim event, if you will. While I don’t want to totally ruin the surprise for my guests, here’s a little sneak preview of the menu I’m planning, two days out. I’ll do a full recap, for sure, but I wanted to throw out some helpful links before the main event in case anyone is still looking for Thanksgivukkah recipes.
The decor will revolve around the two complementary colors of blue (for Hanukkah) and orange (for Thanksgiving). Seems like even the color wheel wanted these two holidays to collide. Alrighty, gotta run. Challah’s going in the oven!
These are really fun recipes because they’re not something you’ll serve for dinner one night and be done with. (At least I hope not.) Nope, here’s a way to make your own pantry staples. DIY time!
Citrus salts are great sprinkled on fish or fresh veggies, but the most obvious use is decorating the rim of a margarita glass. They can be easily adjusted to your own preferences; I’m thinking a lemon-lime combo would be awesome. Strawberry sugar… well I suppose it could add sparkle to a frosted cupcake, but it’s so perfectly paired to a daiquiri I don’t know why you’d ever want to separate the two. :)
Also, you could probably make your own pixy stix by filling paper straws with strawberry sugar. But that would be a very bad idea.
- 1/3 cup kosher flake salt
- 1 heaping Tbs. fresh lemon zest
- 1/3 cup kosher flake salt
- 1 Tbs. fresh lime zest
- 1/4 tsp. ground chipotle
- 1 cup freeze-dried strawberries
- 1/3 cup sugar
For citrus salts, combine ingredients in a small bowl. Bake on a foil-lined cookie sheet at 225° F for about 60 minutes, or until zest is dried out and crumbles when pinched between two fingers. Let cool.
For strawberry sugar, place strawberries in a ziploc bag and crush with a rolling pin. Add sugar to the bag and shake until well-combined.
Store at room-temperature in airtight containers.
Sources: Adapted from 101 Cookbooks, Rosemarried, and One Hungry Mama.
A couple weekends ago we had friends over to watch football, cheer on Beyonce, critique advertisements, and eat chicken wings. (The most American of gatherings.) I like to get guests involved by hosting potluck-style parties, but I always make sure to whip up several dishes of my own. Wouldn’t want to be caught without any food at all!
For some whimsical decor, I made a table runner by plunking down a roll of chalkboard Contact paper and drawing 10-yard lines on it with chalk. (Note: The paper needs to be prepped first by lightly coloring the whole thing with chalk and then wiping it off. Gives me the heeby-jeebies just thinking about all those squeaky chalk noises, but there’s nothing I won’t do for my guests.)
Besides hanging out with awesome friends and giggling at that Oreo commercial, these cupcakes were my favorite part of the party. For the toppers, I made a half-batch of chocolate cut-out cookies and decorated them to look like footballs using royal icing. I don’t actually own a football-shaped cookie cutter, so I improvised. Pastry wheel to the rescue!
Then I made chocolate cupcakes and decorated them with buttercream frosting dyed green, piping on the grass with a Wilton 233 tip. This was my first time piping grass, and I couldn’t get over the cuteness. (Picture me perched on a stool at the kitchen island just giggling.) Carefully pushing the football cookies into the center of the cupcakes completed the ensemble, and there were plenty of leftover cookies to boot.
Once the most important part of the menu was finalized, it was just a matter of cooking up some fun snack foods. Gabe made brats and hamburgers shortly after halftime, and even though we were all stuffed, we couldn’t pass them up. It was the Super Bowl!
Thanks to friends for bringing calico beans, peanut butter cookies, chips ‘n’ dip, and other goodies. And beer, of course. Here’s a recap of the recipes I used:
Super Bowl Party Foods
Right now I’m enjoying a bit of quiet time after a very busy week. Gabe finished finals and I threw him a birthday party on Saturday night. The theme? Star Wars.
I had so much fun planning this party. Any excuse to make up terrible puns (Han-burgers anyone?) is a win in my book. Our guests loved the opportunity to create Jedi names, duel with light sabers, and act all-around silly. And yes, I put my hair in Princess Leia buns.
I apologize for the blurry iPhone photos… I was having too much fun to take “real” photos!
- Veggie Patty-wans
- Vader Taters (potato chips)
- C-3(pea)O Salad
- Ewok Food (pretzel sticks, goldfish crackers, dried cherries)
- Wookie Cookies (cookie cutters are from Williams-Sonoma)
- Light Sabers (I dyed the white chocolate with food coloring)
- Coruscant Cupcakes (funfetti with buttercream)
- Thermal Detonators (chocolate-covered pretzel bites from a local candy store)
- Yoda Soda (limeade and soda) and Add Your Own Nabooze (vodka and rum)